tv U.S. Senate CSPAN February 9, 2012 12:00pm-5:00pm EST
this must you want. not everyone in this body agrees on foreign policy or on the role of u.s. foreign assistance, but the reckless actions of egyptian authorities in this matter should bring us together to form one undeniable conclusion -- american foreign assistance dollars should never be provided to any country that bullies our citizens. recklessly seeks to arrest them on imaginary charges or denies them access to their most basic right. egypt must meeld immediately stop the detainment and prosecution of these american citizens. if they fail to do so, then congress, we have the moral obligation to immediately end their foreign aid. the time for action is now. i will offer an amendment to suspend egypt's foreign aid until our american citizens are released. it is our duty as our people's representatives to ensure no
more american taxpayer dollars will flow to egypt until they rescind the charges against innocent americans and allow them to peacefully leave the country. the american people are behind this, and i advise the senate to consider that we should no longer send foreign aid to a country that is illegally detaining our citizens. thank you, mr. president. i yield back my time. the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: while the senator from kentucky is still on the floor, i appreciate what he has said, and i'm glad that what he's done is shown support for the leahy amendment which passed in the last foreign aid bill. there was a lot of pushback from a number of people, the administration and on the senator's side of the aisle initially. when i wrote into the law that
said -- that would fence any money, $1.3 billion, for the military unless there was a certification that they were upholding a moved -- the moves necessary towards democracy. as a result, all the money that the senator is concerned about is being held back because of the leahy amendment, which is joined in by the -- by senator graham, who i see coming on the floor. we did the foreign operations bill. so i appreciate -- i appreciate the words of the senator from kentucky. i can assure him with -- with the leahy amendment, no money, none of that foreign aid is going to egypt as they conduct their operations the way they are.
and with the senator on the floor, madam president, i'm going to place into the record in a moment a speech in support of the reauthorization of the bipartisan violence against women reauthorization act, and for almost 18 years vawa, the violence against women act, has been the centerpiece of the federal government's commitment to combad domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking. senator crapo and i introduced this bill, a moderate bill, which is now gone through the senate judiciary committee. it should be voted on, voted up or voted down. it saves money but it also commits to those programs needed by our states.
madam president, at some point if it's delayed much longer i'm going to come to the floor and recount some of the horrific crime scenes i went to of -- of violence, of sexual violence, domestic violence. the things that are being combated by this. things that happened when we did not have the violence against women act. so i ask consent that my whole statement on vawa be part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: and, madam president, i am glad to see the senior senator from south carolina. for the first 50 or 60 years i
think i was in the senate, or felt like that, it was a different senior senator, but i'm delighted to see the senior senator from south carolina, senator graham who is joining me to address a crucial moment in our history. the united states air force last week offered a preliminary look into its budget for fiscal year 2007. while the president -- 201. while the president will submit his proposals on monday, last week's briefing papers offered enough detail for the senate to begin considering the overall strategic direction of the air force, the air force future years defense program, pentagon jargon that's usually called fidep and for the recorder that's f-i-e/d-ep. i'm very disappointed as i
look -- the first glass at that proposal. the presiding officer: the senator from south carolina. mr. graham: thank you. i appreciate the opportunity to engage in this colloquy. one, we're the co-chairman of the guard -- guard caucus, which obviously has the air national guard component. senator leahy has been a real pleasure to work with. the bottom line is that this effort to downsize the air force falls incredibly heavy on the air national guard. there will be 3,000 active duty members lost regarding the plan he just mentioned. 5,000 coming from the air national guard. the air frames to be eliminated in the plan senator leahy just mentioned falls disproportionately onto the air national guard. and in just a moment we're going to talk about the bang for your buck in terms of the reserve component called the air national guard, and we're going to challenge the congress and
the department of defense to reconsider. because quite frankly it makes no military or fiscal sense. mr. leahy: madam president, if i might, i think the approach -- one of the examples of one of the ten units slated for cutting, 127th wing from michigan, just returned from fighting bravely in afghanistan and they said welcome home, brave job, sorry, we're going to disband you. the approach to budget cuts the air force decided to take is simply wrong. we have to have budget cuts, we know that. but there's a wide variety of reasons why this makes not the sense it should. i'd draw the senate aattention to a study produced by the pepping last year signed by the vice chairman of the joins chiefs and senate secretary of defense for reserve affairs that demonstrated that we -- what we already knew, even when
mobilized, reserve component units are far less expensive than that are peer units in the active component. it's always been a forgone conclusion the costs are far less than active component costs when they're on base or in garrison. the personnel are not drawing the salaries their peer units are and so on. but the pentagon report showed something more interesting, i think. it showed the guard and reserve save taxpayer dollars even when mobilized. the reserve component units are estimated to be as third as expensive as similar active component units and they can dploi nearly half as often. that adds up to a lot of savings but also in dollars and cents, but also reflects a very major component of our security because in the wars we fought in the last decade, we could not
have done it without these guard and reserve units. mr. graham: the senator is absolutely right. you look at the amount of utilization of the guard and reserve since 9/11 it's been world war ii levels and when you go into the combat theater you can't tell the difference between guard or reserve or active duty member which is a testament to all three. when you look at what the air force is doing and it's proper to consider the other services, the marine corps is making no reduction in their reserves. the army is making very small cuts in the guard and reserves and substantial cuts to the active forces. the army and marine corps plan support the new strategic concept of reversibility, part of the department of defense strategic guidance. we cannot be sure what contingencies might arise and cannot afford to make cuts that will leave us incapable of responding when necessary. the secretary during her last speech to the defense policy board stated the guard and reserves will play an extremely
important role in the reversibility concept because they give the military recoursefulness. this reversibility concept is what we're doing to reverse the defense infrastructure, if it were -- had had to be reversed because of some contingency, you want to make sure that's possible. the guard and reserve is the most capable force to maintain in terms of the concept of reversibility as our best bang for the buck. so the air force is taking a different approach than the army, navy, and marine corps to their reserve component, particularly the air national guard, and i think senator leahy and i are going to make sure that that decision is examined in depth. mr. leahy: madam president, i agree with my colleague on that, and that's why the bipartisan guard caucus will have some very strong statements on this. we look at what the former chief
of staff of the air force, general ron fogleman, said before these plans were announced. he argued for a larger reserve component, smaller active duty force. he did a guest column in "defense news." he said among other things, the big question is how does the department reduce its budget and continue to provide a modern, balanced, and ready defense with more than half of the budget committed to personnel costs? the answer is to to that question is right before us. turn to our historic roots as a militia nation. it means we should return to the constitutional construct for our military the days we maintained a smaller standing military and militia. to do that leaders must put parochial norms aside and be willing to ship forces and capabilities to the national guard and reserve.
he said put old parochial norms aside. he speaks about how the naval significant personnel reductions, how it could preserve capacity and equipment that's already cost the taxpayers trillions of dollars. and then he said we need our collective senior military and civilian leaders to recognize there's a way back to a smaller active military and a larger militia posture. the fiscal environment and emerging threats demand it. madam president, those aren't my words. those are the words of the former air force chief of staff. and when i submit my whole speech, i'll have a longer -- longer quotes from him. mr. graham: senator leahy is right. when you look at our constitutional -- constitution itself, it talks about a militia. when you look at the history of the country, it's the citizen soldier that got this whole
concept called america started. and we do need a standing army, navy, air force, marine corps, but when you're looking at the budget problems we face and the fiscal concerns we have as a nation, you want to restructure the military, i'll be talking just in a minute about why you should be looking for a greater role for the guard and reserve just from economics, but when it comes to military capability, i think we sort of -- senator leahy, we have the best of both worlds now, a very efficient, quite frankly, cheaper force to maintain with very similar if not like capabilities, and we don't want to let that concept be eroded here by a plan that i think doesn't appreciate the role of the militia and doesn't appreciate the cost-benefit analysis from a rebust reserve component. mr. leahy: madam president, senator graham and i introduced a successful amendment to last year's defense authorization bill that required the
pentagon, the general accounting office to form studies to produce more conclusive analysis of the relative costs of similar units in the active component and reserve components. we are also aware of at least two other third-party studies currently underway to address the question. i think we're going to have three or four such studies that will conclusively answer the questions. so senator graham and i and i think most of our colleagues here in the senate consider these proposed air force cuts to be dangerously premature. you know, once you cut the reserve component, send the aircraft to the bone yard at davis air force base, and these airmen and pilots go out to civilian life, you don't get them back. in fact, that's precisely why the army and the marine corps have taken a different approach of preserving their reserve
force structure. you can mobilize active component troops to replace reserve component but once you cut that out, they're gone forever. they're gone forever. mr. graham: and what i'm about to -- to provide to the body, i think we need to really absorb and be aware of. this study that senator leahy is talking about, an analysis of the effectiveness and cost is an ongoing endeavor and i'd like to know more what the study yields before we make what i think are groan droanian -- draconian cuts in the air national guard. this is what we know before the study. this information is in. the air national guard operating under today's deployment constraints is still -- is 53% of the cost of an equivalent active duty major command. the the air martial guard calls less $2.25 less annually than a similarly sized active air force
command. that's $6.2 million a day in savings. after 20 years of service, your average enlisted airmen costs nearly $80,000 a year in total compensation. on the other hand, an identical air national garden listed airman costs about $10,000 a year, about an 85% savings. over a 20-year career, an air national guard airman will save the country more than $1 million compared to an active-duty airman. at 22 years, an active-duty pilot will cost the air force more than $150,000 in total compensation. on the other hand, an air national guard pilot at 22 years costs the taxpayers about $30,000 in total compensation. over a 26-year career, an air national guard pilot will save the country more than $2 milli $2 million. active-duty pilots retire on average with 22 years of servi service. air national guard pilots retire on the average of 26 years of experience. given the country -- giving a country a greater level of
experience and ability for those final four years at a much lower cost. these cost figures do not even account for other life cycle and infrastructure savings that a reserve component first model would yield. so these are stunning numbers without the study to fully be accomplished. so we're going to do our best, senator leahy, to tell the story of -- of capability and cost. mr. leahy: madam president, you know, clearly this approach wi will -- if we keep the guard and reserve, it saves our country precious resources at a time when we really need to tighten our belt. now, a couple of things we all agree o. everybody in the senate agrees our military has to remain strong and vigilant with threats from our enemy. but the source of our military strength has been and always will be our economic might.
if we're to protect ourselves militarily while also marshaling our economic power, then moving to the kind of constitutional defense model that my colleague has discussed should be our first choice. so i think these air force proposals are ill-advised and premature, at the very least. i think they're flat-out wrong, as has already been said here on the floor. when any of us who have visited the areas, especially in the last few years, where our military, our guard and our reserves, are deployed, you can't tell the difference between their duties or the risk they put themselves in from the active duty and the guard and reserve components. national guard's been given a much greater role in our overall national defense -- more missions, greater responsibility, heavier burdens.
they performed these missions superbly, with great skill and effectiveness. they have defended our interes interests, and many have lost their lives doing it. they've carried out the same missions as everybody else. now, the senate national guard caucus worked closely with all concerned to accommodate and facilitate these changes, but now we're going to take an active role in informing the senate as these are being made. we're not going to sit by while any of the military services decimate their reserve components. we'll work together, senator graham and i, with the senate armed services committee, on which he serves with distinction, senate appropriation committees, on which we're both privileged to serve, but also the entire membership of the senate to produce a thoughtful, well-conceived strategy for military manpower that makes use of a cost-effective, accessible, fully operational, trained and ready reserve component.
mr. graham: senator leahy, i look forward to working with you anders to bring about what you just indicated to make a reality. and the bottom line of this whole discussion is that the cold war is over. we're very proud of our standing military, our army, navy, air force, marine corps, coast guard. they do a terrific job, the standing military. the militia component has been the heart and soul of this country for -- for -- for -- since its founding. and in a post-cold war war on terrorism environment, where you have to call on resources that the guard and reserve use is unique, like civil affairs. when you're going into afghanistan and iraq, it's one thing to clear the village, you have to hold -- village, you have to hold it. so the guard and reserve, agriculture specialists coming from the guard and reserve, people in vermont and south carolina that have skills in their day job that could do more to help the war effort than -- than driving a bomb. so as you look forward to the threats that we face, i think we need to understand the reserve component is more valuable than
ever. we're not defending the folda gap against massive soviet union tank invasion. we're having to be nimble. we have to deploy quicklily. and the -- we have to deploy quickly. and the reserve component, particular the air national guard, has been a great return on investment. and like every other part of the military, can be refompletd and this proposal doesn't reform it and i think in many ways neuters the air national guard and just at a time when it makes no sense. so we will continue this endeavor and i really look forward to working with senator leahy and others to create a rational approach to the reserve and guard. mr. leahy: madam president, i thank my friend from south carolina. and we will -- we will from time to time report to the senate on this issue. it is extremely important. it comes down to the bottom li line. have the best defense at the least cost to the taxpayer. that's what we're both aiming for. and i yield the floor.
mr. grassley: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: i would ask that the calling of the quorum be suspended. is. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: and i would ask permission to speak as if in morning business for about 12 or 13 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: for over a year now, i've been investigating fast and furious. that's an operation coming out of the bureau of alcohol, tobacco and firearms. and around this town, we refer to that bureau as the a.t.f. this has been a very complicated investigation. it has been made even more difficult because of the justice department's lack of candor and transparency. basically, the justice
department is stonewalling, interfering with congress' constitutional responsibility of oversight. for example, the justice department's office of inspector general recently disclosed that it has received 80,000 pages of documents from the department and over 100,000 e-mails. now, think of what the inspector general gets from the departme department. 80,000 pages, 100,000 e-mails. and how much do you think they've given the congress of the united states, that has the constitutional responsibility of oversight? only 6,000 pages that we've received. similarly, the inspector general has been allowed to conduct 70 witness interviews. how many have we been -- has the justice department allowed us in the congress in our
constitutional responsibility of oversight to interview? only nine witnesses compared to the 70 witnesses. last week, attorney general eric holder testified before the house committee on oversight and government reform. the justice department did a document dump to congress the friday night before the hearing. that has become a very bad habit of the department of justice. in fact, without giving us any advanced notice that it was coming, they actually put a c.d. under the door of our office after business hours, and what they did for the press department? they gave the same documents to the press people two hours
before they ever gave them to us. yes, they managed to find time to leak the documents to the press during regular business hours. this is the kind of cooperation that we get from the justice department in our constitutional responsibility -- mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid reid: reid: madam presd i through the chair ask my friend to yield for a unanimous consent request regarding the schedule here in the senate. mr. grassley: i guess if i want to get along with the majority leader, i better yield. so i will yield. mr. reid: i would say, madam president, my friend from iowa would get along even if he didn't agree mr. grassley: will i have the floor when you get done? mr. reid: yes. and i would ask his statement not appear interrupted. you know that today, february, at 1:30, the senate proceed to executive session to consider calendar number 407, that there be 30 minutes divided in the usual form, that upon the use or yielding back of the time, the senate proceed to vote with no
intervening action or debate on calendar number 407. the motion to reconsider be considered laid and made on the table, there be no intervening action or debate and no further motions be in order. that any statements related to this this matter be printed in the record and president obama be immediately notified of the senate's action and the senate proceed then to legislative session and the cloture vote on the motion to proceed to s. 1813 under the previous order. the presiding officer: is there objection? no objection, so ordered. the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: if the senator from nevada didn't do this, i want to ask request that his speech not interrupt the context of my speech. mr. reid: i already did that. mr. grassley: thank you. thank you. so what i'm telling my colleagues here is that we just have terrible lack of cooperation from the justice department. the justice department is not
only thumbing its nose at a few members of the senate, they're doing it to the entire congress of the united states. when we know there's 80,000 pages of documents and they only give us 6,000 pages, when there's 100,000 e-mails and we get a handful of e-mails. and then why would they be so mysterious, wanting to puss -- put a disk under our door on a friday night, giving it two hours before? what sort of attitude is that of the justice department towards the cooperation that you ought to have with our filling our constitutional role of oversight? so i guess -- i'd say it hardly any cooperation whatsoever that we get from the justice
department. now, even though we get a dribble here and a dribble there, even though we get a c.d. under the door instead of very open face-to-face receiving documents, what we got last friday did reveal further facts about a previously unknown proposal to allow these guns to cross the border. for somebody wondering about guns crossing the border, what are we talking about? we're talking about fast and furious, a program of the justice department, a program that tells licensed gun dealers we want you to sell guns illegally, and 2,000 were sold illegally, so we can follow them across the border and maybe arrest some drug kingpin. but we never get there. so that's what we're investigating.
i said we did reveal some facts previously unknown. we have long known that in march 2011, deputy attorney general james cole had a conference call with all southwest border u.s. agents. and a follow-up e-mail after the call, mr. cole wrote, as i said on the call, to avoid any potential confusion, i want to reiterate the department's policy. we should not design or conduct undercover operations which include guns crossing the border. if we have knowledge that guns are about to cross the border, we must take immediate action to stop the firearms from crossing the border even if that prematurely terminates or otherwise jeopardizes an investigation. end of quote. attorney general holder himself told us in a hearing in may that mr. cole was simply reiterating an existing justice policy in
his e-mails, not communicating new policy. so imagine my surprise when i discovered in the document slid under my door late last friday that while in mexico, assistant attorney general lanny breuer proposed letting guns cross the border. mr. breuer's proposal came at exactly the same time the department was preparing to send its letter to me denying that the a.t.f. ever does the very thing that he was proposing. in a february 4, 2012, e-mail the justice department attache in mexico cocity wrote to a number of officials at the justice department -- quote -- "stapbt attorney general breuer proposed to allow straw
purchasers to cross into mexico so the secretary of public safety can attest such coordinated object racials between the -- operations between the u.s. and mexico may send a strong message to arms traffickers." end of quote. so we've got people here in washington say the program doesn't exist. at the same time we've got people talking down in mexico city of what we're trying to accomplish by the illegal sale of guns. now that e-mail i just quoted, the recipient of it included mr. brier's deputy, jason wine stein who was helping to write the justice department letter to me they would later withdraw. they wrote a letter to me february 4 last year that in october they admitted they had misled us. mr. winestein was sending updates about the draft letter to mr. breuer at the same time.
yet during his testimony at the senate judiciary committee, mr. breer down played his involvement in reviewing the draft letter. so it is outrageous to me that the head of the justice department's criminal division proposed exactly what his department was denying to me was actually happening. the justice department's letter to me clearly said -- quote -- "a.t.f. makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation to mexico." end of quote. they said that at the very same time that they were having e-mails that said that this program existed. yet those words were being sent to congress. mr. bruer was advocating that the justice department operation allow weapons to be transported into mexico. further, it directly contradicted what the justice department had said its policy
was. so, is it possible that they can have it both ways? no, you can't have it both ways. if they didn't have a policy against such operations, perhaps it's not a surprise that an operation like fast and furious sprang up if the left hand doesn't know what the right hand's doing. after all, as that same justice department attache wrote after a meeting a few days after his first e-mail -- quote -- "i raised the issue that there is an inherent risk in allowing twoeps pass from u.s. -- to pass from u.s. to mexico co, the possibility of mexico not seizing the weapons and the weapons being used to commit crimes in mexico." the light bulb went on. if you're selling guns illegally, 2,000 of them, they don't interdict them, yeah, they end up murdering hundreds of people in mexico and one person in the united states at least. so if they didn't have a policy
against such operations, how come the justice department did have a policy against such operations? this is a record of mr. lanny breuer proposing to violate it. that's not just my conclusion. that's the attorney general's conclusion as well at last week's hearing in the house of representatives, the attorney general was asked to explain the contradiction between his deputy's antigun walking policy and the evidence of mr. breuer proposed operation to let guns cross the border. he couldn't answer that question. but the attorney general answered -- quote -- "well, clearly what was proposed in, i guess, february by lanny breuer was in contravention of the policy that i had the deputy attorney general make clear to everybody at main justice and to the field." end of quote. perhaps this disconnect between justice department policy and lanny breuer's proposal explains
mr. breuer's previous inaction to stop gun walking. when he found out about gun walking in operation wide receiver in april 2010, he failed to do anything to stop it or to hold anyone accountable. he simply had his deputy inform a.t.f. leadership. regardless, mr. b r*e uer's contravention of the justice department policy is yet another reason why it is long past time for mr. breuer to leave the department of justice. he misled congress about whether he was aware of the letter to me. to this day he is still the highest ranking official in any administration that we know was aware of gun walking in any federal program. yet he took no action to stop gun walking. he failed to alert the attorney general or the inspector general. if mr. breuer the justice department and the american
people, this failure raises important questions. why did attorney general holder determine that mr. lanny breuer was allowing straw purchasers to reach mexico with trafficked weapons? what has he done about it? will mr. breuer be held accountable for hatching a plan to directly violate the attorney general's antigun walking policy? the attorney general clearly testified that the proposal was in contravention of that policy. how does the justice department know other senior criminal division officials weren't proposing operations similar to fast and furious? these are just a subset of some of the major questions remaining in our investigation of fast and furious. it has now been one year since the department sent me its false letter. how did the justice department move from its position of dismissing the complaints of whistle-blowers to acknowledging that now those whistle-blower complaints are true? what officials were internally
dismissive of whistle-blower complaints and who believed they could have merit and should be taken seriously? to what extent did justice department officials seek to retaliate against whistle-blowers? exactly how and when did the justice department officials begin to learn the truth of what happened. former a.t.f. director ken nelson testified how and when he learned. what about attorney general holder? what about assistant attorney general lanny breuer? a year after fast and furious concluded who would be held accountable? why didn't top justice department officials see the connection between fast and furious and previously flawed operations that they have admitted that they knew about? how has the justice department assessed the mistakes and culpability of these officials? it is time now finally for the justice department to stop stonewalling and start providing
answers. it's time for holder to share with congress the other 74,000 pages of documents that they've turned over to the inspector general. it's time for holder to give us access to the dozens of other people the inspector general has been allowed to interview. in short, it's time for holder to come clean with the american people. the sooner he does it and the department does it, the sooner we can get to the bottom of what really happened, and particularly the terry family deserves to know what gun killed their son. because it was probably one of these guns. i yield the floor. mr. barrasso: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: thank you, madam president. madam president, i come to the floor as i do week after week as a physician who practiced medicine in caspar, wyoming, taking care of families in the community and across the state for about a quarter of a century. and i come as a doctor providing a second opinion about the health care law.
since this health care law was signed by the president almost two years ago, the public has been overwhelmingly opposed to it. democrats in congress drafted this health care law. they did so quickly and behind closed doors. in spite of the president's promise that discussions would be held on c-span, no one saw what was happening. well, now the bill is law. and as nancy pelosi said, first you have to pass it before you get to find out what's in it, we have as americans witnessed week after week the unintended consequences of the rush of the democrats to score what they thought would be a political victory. so i continue to come to the floor with a second opinion, because week after week there is another new finding of this monstrous law, and it's why week
after week this health care law remains incredibly unpopular. the list of victims of this law continues to grow longer each week. small business owners, we have families, people who get their coverage through their employers, and patients all across the country have already been impacted by this health care law. but on january 20 -- on january 20 the third anniversary of the president's inauguration, the president's health care law found a very new target, and that target amazingly is religious liberty. now this administration is mandating that religious institutions provide services that undermine the beliefs of religious institutions across the country. this ruling, in my opinion and in the opinion of many across this nation, this ruling tramples over w-ft amendments of the constitution -- one of the
amendments of the constitution. madam president, i would say it's an easy amendment to find since it is the first one. it's the one that protects the rights to freedom of religion and freedom of expression. reading from the constitution, amendment number 1, congress shall make no law -- congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. if you take a look back at our nation's history, the right to freedom of religion is one of the main reasons that many people came to america in the first place, and it's one of the reasons that people have fought and have died for our nation. so what's someone to do? well, washington archbishop donald wurhle has expressed the dilemma that many institutions face.
he did it in a letter last week. what he said was that the mandate will allow a catholic school just one of three options the archbishop here in washington, the mandate will allow a catholic school only one of three options. violate its beliefs, violate its beliefs by providing coverage for medications and procedures that catholics believe are immoral. number two, another option. cease providing insurance coverage for all of its employees and then face ongoing and ultimately ruinous fines. or three, attempt to qualify for the exemptions by hiring and serving only catholics. exclude everyone else. many americans understand that all three of those options are indefensible. americans from across the political spectrum are speaking out against president obama's
big government power grab. one of my colleagues, democrat senator joe manchin called this mandate un-american. another, democrat bob casey said this forces catholic institutions to violate their religious beliefs. then we have former representative kathy dahlkemper, democrat from pennsylvania, who voted for the hk law in the house of representatives, said she would never have voted for the final version of the health care law, she said, if i expected the obama administration to force catholic hospitals and catholic colleges and universities to pay for contraception. others have likewise criticized the administration for being unwilling to offer a broader conscience exemption to religious-affiliated institutions.
now that the president's liberal allies are even opposed to this unprecedented power grab, the white house is trying to clean up the mess. it has signaled that it is willing to compromise on its decision. instead of a mild compromise, the regulation in the entire health care law needs to be fully repealed. as "the wall street journal" editorial board puts it, in any case, h.h.s. would revive this coercion whenever it is politically convenient sometime in mr. obama's second term. they go on to say religious liberty won't be protected from the entitle state until obamacare is row peeled. i think all americans should be afraid of the course that this white house is on with this regulation. this debate isn't about women's health. it's about power. washington should not have the
power to force religious people and religious institutions to take actions that contradict their beliefs. what we're going to continue to see as the health care law and the mandates and the regulations continue to come out, what we will see is a government and an administration that continues to expand the government reach in terms of its size, in terms of its scope and in terms of its grab for power. the health care law was supposed to be about people and health care, the care they need from the doctor they want at a cost they can afford. instead, we have a lot of i.r.s. agents, no new doctors and nurses, and when i go to town hall meetings and ask all of the people in attendance, i say how many of you under this health care law who are hoping to get the care you need, the doctor that you want at a price you can
afford, how many of you believe that the cost of your health care because of this health care law will increase, the cost to you will go up? and all the hands go up. that's what the people believe when they hear more and more about this health care law. and then they say how many of you believe that the quality and availability of your care will go down? and again, the hands go up. these are the american people knowing everything they do about a health care law, which is very complicated and has not given them what they have asked for -- the care they need, a doctor they want at a cost they can afford. and what they find out is that they are going to -- and believe that they are going to be actually paying more and getting less, and that's not what the american people have been promised, it's not what they want, it's not what they expected, but it is what they are finding out that they have received now that the law has passed. so, madam president, this
clearly explains why republicans in the senate and the house continue to be committed to repealing the president's health care law. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: i ask unanimous consent to address the house -- address the senate for up to 15 minutes as if in morning business. the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. boxer: my friend through the chair, would it be possible for me to have two minutes prior to your statement. mr. brown: certainly. i yield to the senator from california. the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. boxer: thank you. i just wanted to take two minutes to respond to senator barrasso who offered his second opinion, and i hope my colleague will also talk about that. but i had to say it is stunning to see the assault on women's health that is taking place from
the republican party day after day after day. first they tried to stop women from getting breast cancer screening. then they tried to stop us from getting cervical cancer screening. and now they are going after our ability to get birth control. and i have to say this. we know that for a full 15% of women, birth control is pure medicine. they suffer from debilitating monthly pain, end metriosis. we have stories of women who couldn't afford birth control pills and a cyst got out of hand and lost an ovary. we know that birth control is used for very serious skin condition. so if they want to stand up here and say that women don't have a right to our medicine, that's their right to do it, but don't put it into the frame of
religious freedom, because we know that president obama said that he was going to do what 28 states have done, and that is make sure that women who work in this country have the ability to get access to birth control pills through their insurance. that's as simple as it gets. 28 states do it. i never heard a word out of them, never. and eight of those states have no exception when president obama made an exception for 335,000 churches. so let's not stand here and talk about, you know, the overreach of the federal government, the rest of it. the fact is our states have been doing this for years. more than 50% of women in this nation have the ability to get contraception. it's about health. it's the institute of medicine that said it's critical. it will cut down on tens of thousands of abortions when families plan their families. so, madam president, as long as our colleagues on the other side
want to make women a political football in this country, there are many of us here, women and men alike, who are going to stand sentry, who are going to say you can't do this to the women of this nation. this is the 21st century, and we're arguing about birth control instead of how to get out of this economic malaise and finally we're seeing light at the end of the tunnel. oh, no, i'm hoping we go to a highway bill this afternoon, but we have to now have this diversion about an issue that was resolved, frankly, in the 1950's, in the 1960's. so thank you for this opportunity. senator barrasso has a right to a second opinion, but i think his opinion is off the mark, and i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: thank you, madam president. i appreciate the comments from the senator from california. i was -- i see that -- you know, she is on the floor today with senator inhofe, two unlikely
peas in a pod, one pretty liberal, one pretty conservative, very different on views. they are both on the floor right now, and they both came to the floor to talk about job creation, about infrastructure, about building highways and bridges and public transit and all that in job creation, and then, as so often is the case, people on the other side so often want to change the subject. in my state, the elections two years ago, a year and a half ago, were all about lost scwobs, about lost manufacturing jobs that frankly accelerated during the bush years, and we finally turned that manufacturing job loss around. we have seen 20 straight months of job increase and manufacturing. but the legislature in columbus, the state capital and the governor, what are they doing? they are not fighting for job creation. they are going after worker rights, they are going after women's rights. something called the heartbeat bill, pretty extreme. they are going after voter rights instead of focusing on job creation. that's what i came to the floor, too, to do today, not
specifically on this bill but another kind of infrastructure bill which i will get to in a moment. but what else -- the comments i heard from senator barrasso only near the end of his discussion was they wanted to repeal the health care law. what do they -- how do they tell a 23-year-old who now is on her mother's insurance, 23-year-old that's out of a job, doesn't have insurance, that she is going to lose her insurance that she is on with her mother because her mother has insurance when she is going to be thrown off her insurance? how are they going to explain to the family they have a child with a preexisting condition that now can get insurance when the insurance company denied them before? how are they going to explain it to the medicare retiree, the 72-year-old woman on medicare who now gets no co-pay, no deductible free screenings for osteoporosis or the man that gets prostate screens? how are they going to explain that, they want to repeal that? how are they going to explain the fact that they want to repeal one of the most
insidious -- they want to repeal our stopping one of the most insidious insurance company practices that if you get too sick and you're too expensive, insurance companies just want to cut you off. they want to repeal that prohibition. i guess it's because they want to do the insurance company's bidding over and over and over again, that's a big part of their game. but it just breaks my heart when i have seen the progress we made, the millions of americans that now will have health insurance. and i know that some of my colleagues, everybody in this body has good health insurance. the people in this body are generally pretty affluent, people in this body have good government insurance, but they don't want millions of men and women in our country, people who have lost jobs, people who are working without insurance, they don't want them to have insurance all for some political gain of repealing obamacare. it's too bad. i want to focus on job creation. that's why, madam president, i want to make some remarks on some legislation i introduced today that's not directly senator boxer's and senator inhofe's highway bill, but it's about water and sewer systems
and infrastructure. earlier today, i was on a call with tony parret, executive director of the metropolitan sewer district in cincinnati. we talked about how communities in ohio are struggling to afford the necessary upgrades to improve sewer systems. in parts of the state with something called combined sewer systems. every time there are heavy rains, waste and stormwater overflows, the sewers overflow, the water is dumped into our rivers and our creeks and our lakes. the environmental protection agency estimates that 800 billion gallons of untreated water, waste water and storm water from these combined sewage overflow, these combined sewer systems are released into our rivers, lakes and streams each year. it poses a threat to public health and the environment. it underlines the competitiveness of our businesses. so not only do building these water and sewer systems and upgrades create jobs, but we also know if we don't that local businesses aren't going to expand. if they can't -- if they are not
certain they are going to have a good, pleen water available and at a decent cost and a reasonable cost, they're not going to expand their businesses, especially if it's manufacturing. the cost of addressing these -- these combined sewage overflow systems in ohio is some $6 billion, according to the e.p.a., a billion dollars in northeast ohio, $2 billion in southwest ohio, the cincinnati area. so that's why today, mr. president, because there are 81 ohio communities requiring water infrastructure improvements, i am introducing the clean water affordability act. a couple of congresses -- previous congresses, i introduced this legislation with my republican colleague from ohio, senator voinovich. it will protect local ratepayers, it will lead to cleaner water, it will promote economic development. it will invest $1.8 billion to be distributed over the next five years through a grant program for financially distressed communities delinquent inserted in the record by e.p.a. administrator jackson. i have spoken to her conveying
the concern of ohio's c.s.o. communities. the program provides a 75/25 cost share same to what we have done on highway issues in the past. 75% federal government cost, 25% local government cost. it's estimated that every $25 billion invested in infrastructure will create -- that for every billion dollars invested upwards of 20,000 jobs would be created. approximate would promote green infrastructure. cities like steubenville or becyrus should be encouraged to use infrastructure if it costs less than traditional production and produces the same environmental benefits. i will continue to work with mayors in lima in defiance and county commissioners and others who have explained to me how years of reduced infrastructure investments have eroded their water and sewer systems. in closing, mr. president, the united states for -- in the 19 -- when we were kids, in the
1950's and 1960's and 1970's and into the 1980's, the united states infrastructure was the envy of the world, whether it was the interstate system, whether it was the federa federal-state-local partnerships on water and sewer systems, whether it was the building of community colleges and the beginnings of technology and wiring for our telecommunications systems in the 1950's and 1960's and 1970's, we were the envy of the world. today, because so many in this -- so many in this government think that you -- you -- you -- that we need to cut spending at all costs on everything, we simply haven't kept up with the infrastructure. it's why countries like china, who are investing so much money in infrastructure, we have risk of their passing us by in manufacturing, all the things that we care about that build a solid middle class. this legislation is an economic development imperative. this legislation is an imperative for citizens of our country having clean drinking water, safe drinking water, a predictable -- predictable
access to water at a reasonable cost. it's important for our families. it's important for our communities. it's important for business development. it's important for a strong middle-class manufacturing country, which we still are. i ask my colleagues to support this important legislation i'm introducing today. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. cardin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland is recognized. mr. cardin: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cardin: mr. president, i take this time to urge my colleagues to let us proceed on the reauthorization of the surface transportation act, s. 1813. this is a critically important bill that i'm proud to be on two committees that have had jurisdiction over this bill, the environment and public works committee, where senator boxer and senator inhofe have worked together to bring out a bill that received the unanimous support of our committee. i also serve on the senate finance committee, where senator baucus and senator hatch have worked together so that we have the sufficient revenues in order to be able to finance the reauthorization bill during its two-year reauthorization. this bill is so important to our country.
first, it gives predictability to our state and local governments. it gives predictability to the highway engineers. it gives predictability to contractors to know that the funding will be there in order to advance our transportation programs. when we do these short-term extensions, it really does cause significant problems for planners. if you're trying to plan a transportation project, you need to know that the funding's going to be there for more than just a few months. you need to have some degree of predictability, and this legislation will allow us to give that predictability to those who are involved in these decision making. it's been since 2009 since we last reauthorized the surface transportation act. it's time for us to act. this bill will also help us as far as american competitiveness is concerned. we need to have modern transportation infrastructure, whether it's our highways, our bridges, our transit systems.
we need to make sure that we can meet the challenges of today's society. i could talk just in this region, mr. president, about our needs in the transit area. we have one of the most congested communities in the nation in the washington, d.c. many of my constituents who live in maryland come in to work every day, working for the federal government, using the mass transit system. that system is aged and needs attention. we need to provide the financing nexus area in order to be as competitive as we can with transportation options to the people of this country. this bill is important for jobs. you hear that over and over again. in maryland, the passage of this bill will preserve or expand 10,000 jobs to the people of maryland. i expect that you would have similar numbers in new mexico. it's important in every state in this nation.
it's also important for safety. i'll just give you one number in maryland that gets -- really has me concerned. there are 359 bridges in the state of maryland that have been rated structurally deficient in which 4.6 million motorists travel over those bridges every day. now, the state of maryland's taking steps to make sure that the motorists are safe, but we need to fix those bridges in a more permanent way. and the longer we wait, the more it costs. deferred maintenance means that we're not doing what we should to protect the future needs of our community. this legislation puts a heavy priority on maintaining our infrastructure, our transportation infrastructure so that it's safe and we can move forward into the future.
the legislation is balanced between transit and highway. now, i know in certain regions of this country highways are the principal means of transportation and their interest in transit isn't quite as great as it is if you represent the people of new york or you represent the people of maryland or you represent the people in an urban center, where public transit becomes a very important part of our transportation needs. this legislation is balanced to take care of the needs of our highways and the needs of our transit system, and i think it's a credit to that balance that in the environment and public works committee and the banking committee, the two committees that have principal jurisdiction over the highway program and over the transit program, that we had unanimous support on bringing this bill forward. that's how we should be proceeding in considering legislation. we have that type of bipartisan
cooperation because this bill is properly balanced. and let me also point out we have received hundreds of letters of organizations that support the passage of the surface transportation reauthorization act. we had the u.s. chamber of commerce and we have afl-cio. we've got businesses. we have labor groups. we've got local communities. we have national groups. this bill has been put together in a way where we can get it done this year and it would be very, very important for the people of this country and for our economy. let me just talk a little bit about my state of maryland with the maryland department of transportation. they've given us a list of projects that will move forward if we can get this bill reauthorized. it's from the beltway around baltimore to critical roads in montgomery and prince george's county, to our rural areas. we could share some of those specific examples. but this will affect the ability
of maryland to move forward with critical roads and transit needs and we need to get that done. i want to talk a little bit about some of the specific issues that are in the bill that have -- that i want to highlig highlight. the appalachia highway system is one that we had put a separate provision historically in the code because we recognized to bring economic opportunity to that part of our nation, which includes west virginia and includes maryland and includes pennsylvania. .it also includes some of our southern states that are in the appalachia highway region. it's tough to get jobs there. i was just recently in the most western part of maryland up in garrett county, and i can tell you that it's department to get companies to move into that region. and one of the problems, you've got to get over the mountains. it's not easy to get over the
mountains. we have a real opportunity around cumberland, maryland, to be able to expand dramatically the economic opportunities and jobs by completing the north-south highway that goes through pennsylvania, maryland, and west virginia. now, mr. president, there's reason to celebrate in this bill that that could become a reali reality. there is an amendment that i had offered that's included in this legislation that provides the toll credits so that we can advance this project. it was a major issue needed, particularly in the pennsylvania part of this north-south highway. so we do have reason to celebrate in this legislation a way of completing the appalachia highway system in -- in my part of -- of the region. senator rockefeller's been working very closely on this issue and i really applaud his -- his leadership on it. we're going to be looking to see
whether we can't provide some additional, through amendments to this bill, where we might be able to strengthen more to make sure that these projects get the priority that they're entitled to. we have, for the sake of flexibility, combined many of the specific programs into more general programs. that's part of the balance in this legislation, to give greater flexibility to local governments. that's important. but we also want to make sure that the federal -- that the national priorities receive the attention that they need and the appalachia highway system is a national priority. we want to make sure that it's, in fact, done. i wear another hat as -- as -- as chair of the water wildlife subcommittee on the environment and public works committee, and i want to do everything we can to make sure that the federal government, as a partner in developing highways and roads and transit systems, does what's
important for clean water in our community. and a large part of the pollutants that enter into our waters come from storm runoff. in the chesapeake bay region, it is the largest growth source of pollutants going into the chesapeake bay come from storm runoff. well, highway construction ca can -- can help or hurt storm runoff. if do you it the right way, you actually can help keep pollutants out of our streams and rivers and bays. so i am hopeful that during the discussion of this bill on the floor of the senate that we'll look for ways that we can make this bill helpful in the best practices being used in order to deal with storm runoff as we deal with major transportation programs in this country. one of the programs that i've -- that i have spent a lot of time on as a transportation -- is the transportation enhancement
programs, the t.e. programs. that has been used by local governments to do things that are critically important to our community. i could talk about bicycle paths. i could talk about paths that have connected communities that have allowed us to take cars off the road. these are -- this is a small amount of money but it becomes very important for getting motorists off the roads. we have the use of the transportation enhancement programs so it's safety for motorists who want to pull off to the side of the road to see the vistas, but we've used the funds for that. that's a safety issue. so transportation enhancements are important programs. we want to make sure that thos those -- that flexibility and funding opportunities remain, and chairman boxer has been very careful to work out an arrangement so that we can advance that. and i thank her for that. i've r cochran. we are hoping to offer an amendment that will make it clear that we need to work with
the local governments as we look at how the transportation enhancement funds are being used. let me tell you another opportunity that i think we could have in consideration of this bill, and that deals with our veterans. there is a way that we could use the training that veterans receive while in military service to help when they come back here as far as truck drivers are concerned, and we're looking at for an amendment in regards to that area, where we could advance that issue. so there are many areas in this bill that we think are extremely important to advance our needs. it's a bipartisan bill. we've got to get this done. senator boxer is on the floor, and once again i just want to compliment her for her patience and leadership to work through each of these issues. we are looking forward to a robust debate on the floor of the senate. i hope that members who have amendments will allow us to
proceed and take a look at amendments. but let's proceed in the spirit in which the environment and public works committee, the banking committee and the finance committee reported the bills to the senate. and that is listen to each other, don't lose sight of the prize of getting this bill done, be willing to compromise so that we can maintain the type of bipartisan cooperation we need in order to get this bill enacted. and if we do that, we will be doing something so important for our country. this bill will create jobs. this bill will help our economic recovery. this bill will help our future. and i'm proud to be part of the group that brought this bill forward to the floor of the united states senate. and with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor. but before i do that, i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. carper: mr. president, good afternoon -- are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: yes. mr. carper: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. carper: i rise this afternoon, mr. president, to say hello and also to speak in favor of moving ahead for progress in
the 21st century, something that most americans, almost all americans have got to be in favor of. a lot of them knew about this legislation, i think they would be in favor of it too. it's been 862 days since safetea-lu spraoeurd. legislation was -- spraoeurd. the legislation was written in 2003, passed and signed into law in 2005. we extended that legislation safetea-lu eight times since it expired in 2009. john chambers, who is the c.e.o. of a technology company called cisco thraoeubgs say the key to -- likes to say the key to global economic competitiveness is having the best workforce and the best infrastructure in the world. he said that's where ... he said
that's where the jobs will go in the 21st century. best workforce, best infrastructure, you'll get the jobs. we must continue to modernize in the spirit of those words, modernize and maintain our infrastructure. i want to start today by congratulating senator boxer. i want to congratulate senator inhofe for pulling together and subcommittee staffs as well. i want to start for congratulating them for pulling together a bipartisan transportation bill that begins to address america's infrastructure needs. this comes on the heels of our passage earlier this week of a conference report, a compromise on f.a.a. reauthorization to bring the air traffic control system of our country into the 21st century and to also begin rebuilding and improving our airports as well. this is a pretty good one-two punch in the period of one week.
this legislation before us today makes key reforms to our federal transportation policy that will help make us the -- help make the best use of our taxpayers dollars. the legislation sets clear national goals for transportation investments. we don't just throw money at this problem. we actually do so to achieve a number of specific goals. and this bill asks state transportation departments to do their part to achieve those national goals. it accomplished this by implementing new peformance measures that will help to hold states accountable for the outcomes of the investments that we're prepared to make. this will ensure that we're building the most effective multimodal transportation network we can by putting our dollars to the most productive use. passing this legislation is critically important to america's economic health at home and our competitiveness
abroad. we heard it here today and hear it for the next several days. this legislation if adopted and signed into law will create or save s&l millions of save several millions of jobs. in states like new mexico, states like delaware and 48 other states as well. in my state, delaware, we're expecting new transportation developments. new ones that will contribute to our state's productivity. some of those will help to relieve congestion along important corridors as i-95. we've done good work in putting in highway speed e-z passes to expedite the flow of traffic and we're working on a big intersection where i-95 intersects with route 1. we've got good work going on there and want to be able to finish that. other improvements will allow shippers to move freight more quickly and reliably down roads
such as 301 which comes down maryland into delaware on its way to i-95. each of my colleagues could no doubt talk about similar efforts in their states. each of these projects is part of our national transportation system. taken together, this system is greater than the sum of its parts. having a world-class transportation system has helped to make america what it is today. this bill will ensure that we have a transportation system that allows america to return to prosperity and to grow that prosperity. so i'm looking forward to debating this bill on the senate floor. i appreciate the time to get started on that here today. as a senator and as a recovering governor, i know that everything i do, i can do better, and so as good as this legislation is, i think there is always room for improvement. i have never introduced a perfect bill. my friend who is presiding over the senate may have, i'm not
sure. but as good as this legislation is, there is room for improvement. i plan to bring forward a couple of amendments that i think will improve this bill, and i hope my colleagues will support them. we have talked about a few of them, actually in the markup of the full committee. for example, i believe we need to do more on the issue of traffic congestion. anybody who drove -- i go back and forth on the train just about every day and night, as my colleagues know. every day, every morning, i see traffic lined up for miles trying to get from north to south and basically parallel to the northeast corridor of amtrak. as we zip along at 125 miles per hour. and this city i think just was recognized as maybe the most congested city in america with respect to traffic congestion. in fact, i'm told in 2010, drivers in u.s. more urban areas, suburban areas wasted some -- listen to this -- 1.9 billion gallons of fuel due to traffic congestion.
that's almost 2 billion gallons of fuel. congestion is a major challenge in larger u.s. cities, and increasingly even smaller cities and towns, too. the burden of the cost of traffic congestion is felt by both travelers and freight shippers. diminishing our quality of life and costing us money. according to the texas transportation institute -- they come up with this study and analysis every year, but according to the texas transportation institute, the average commuter across the country spent 34 hours sitting in traffic. not moving, not moving at 40 or 30 or 10 miles an hour. sitting in traffic, 34 hours. and that's up from 14 hours in 1982. this burden lowers productivity and results in wasted fuel, costing americans more than $100 billion in 2010 or nearly
$750 wasted for every commuter. traffic congestion is also increasingly hurting the reliability of the transportation system, which is particularly important due to freight shippers who the value of each minute can be as much as five bucks. that's about $300 an hour. as america's economy continues to recover, we must make sure that traffic is not a drag on job growth. according to that same texas transportation institute, by 2016, three years from -- 2015, three years from now, the cost of gridlock will rise from $101 billion to something like $133 billion. that's the bad news. there is some good news, too. fortunately, we have new tools to address congestion. for example, better management of accidents, improved timing of traffic signals, real-time traveler information and managed toll lanes. and i will talk more about managed toll lanes probably next
week. but they all provide low-cost congestion benefits. they are smart, they are being successfully used on a smaller scale around the country, they are ideas that we want to replicate in cities and counties and states across our country. these are just a few of the strategies that have been helping passengers and freight shippers to better anticipate, better avoid and better manage the impact of congestion. so i will offer an amendment that would and the states that would with the worst congestion target funding that these cost-effective congestion relief strategies. my amendment will help to give americans some of their time and money back. it will help shippers grow their businesses, too. i hope my colleagues will support it. second, i believe that anything worth having is worth paying for. if we will not rise or raise the user fees at the federal level, we should at least stop prohibiting states from doing so
if that makes sense for them. so i will be offering an amendment that will give states more flexibility to use tolls and user fees on their roadways. an ceafg number of states are looking at -- an increasing number of states are looking at tolls and user fees as funds and the federal government shouldn't stand in their way. we have used tolls as a source of revenue in delaware for years. it's helped to maintain and improve the quilt i-95 corridor that i mentioned. it's also helped to provide an excellent corridor, north-south corridor from i-95 in the northern part of our state past the dover air force base in the central part of delaware. toll revenue is often a critical part of forming public-private partnerships, which i know many of my colleagues support. so i hope my colleagues will join me in supporting this amendment as well. in closing, i just again say that congress needs to act on transportation legislation. the rest of the country is counting on us, they are counting on us. the infrastructure of our country gets graded on an annual
basis by, among others, the engineers of our nation, and they look at transportation more broadly. it's not just roads, highways, bridges. it's not just airports, railroads, ports, wastewater treatment system. they look at all of it. last year, the grade they gave us, mr. president, was a d, and that's not a d as in delightful, that is not a d as in distinguished. that's in a -- maybe more in the area of derelict, and the idea is we could do a whole lot better. we have taken action this week with respect to our air traffic controlling systems. we have taken a step toward beginning to rebuild and improve our airports. the legislation here will get us going for the next 24 months to make our roads, highways and bridges safer, less congested and something that we can
treasure as a real asset. the last thing i want to say is this. my colleagues heard me say this once or twice. it bears repeating. a major job of government -- not the only job of government but a major job of government is to provide a nurturing environment for job creation and job preservation. it's not the only job of government, but it's a big job of government, and a big part of creating that nurturing environment for job creation, job preservation is the road-highway-bridge infrastructure that we can all be proud of and that will serve our needs as we go forward into the 21st century. this legislation will help get us in that direction for the next couple of years. it's important that we follow on the heels of it. don't waste two years saying what do we do next, but we build on this to do even smarter things in the years to come. that having been said, i would look to see if anybody wants time. i don't see anybody wanting time. madam chair, let me say again while you're on the floor, thanks a lot for your leadership on this. for people to say why can't congress ever get anything done, why can't democrats and
republicans work together? i think the way you and senator inhofe have worked together on this legislation, the way your staffs have worked together on this legislation is a great model for us, and i thank you both for your leadership. thank you. the presiding officer: the senator from california is recognized. mrs. boxer: mr. president, i want to thank the senator from delaware because he as well as you are very important members of this great committee, the environment and public works committee, and as one of our most senior members, he has taken a tremendous interest in every single thing we do. i look to his leadership on a number of things including controlling mercury, which is dear to his heart and mine both. he is a leader on nuclear plant safety. and he has been extremely helpful. i just want to thank him for the very good role he plays in that committee. we will have a number of amendments. it's going to be delicate with the amendment process. it's fine. i encourage everyone if they have germane amendments like the senator, want to go for it, go for it, but we have an agreement that the leadership on the
committee, we're either going to all go for an amendment or not because we don't want to stymie this. but i appreciate you giving us an alert that you're going to offer these two amendments, and i would urge you to get them to us so we can share them with senator inhofe. let me say we have received yet another letter of support which i'm very proud to put in the record if i might, mr. president. i ask unanimous consent to do that. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. boxer: thank you. it's a letter from the transportation construction coalition, and they are urging all of us for an aye vote on the motion to proceed to the transportation bill, and they have said, you know, wonderful things about our bill that they like the steps we have taken to accelerate all the reviews and flexibility for the states and greater authority for our states, and the fact that we did this in a comprehensive way, we
did this in a bipartisan way, and i'm very grateful. what i would like to do is read the names of these organizations because it just shows you the depth in america, the depth of the support in america for this bill. the american road and transportation builders. the associated general contractors. the american coal ash association. the american concrete pavement association. the concrete pipe association. the american council of engineering companies. american subcontractors association. american iron and steel institute. american society of civil engineers. american traffic safety services. the asphalt and motion manufacturers. the asphalt recycling and reclaiming association. the association of equipment manufacturers. the concrete reinforcing steel institute. the international slurry surfacing association. the international association of bridge, structural, ornamental
and reinforcing iron workers international union of operating engineers. the laborers cooperation and education trust. the laborers international union of north america. the national asphalt pavement association. the national association of surety bond producers. the national ready-mix concrete association. the national stone, sand and gravel association. the national utility contractors association. the portland cement association. the precast, prestress concrete institute. the road information program. and the united brotherhood of carpenters and joiners of america. the reason i read these 29 organizations -- there are a thousand organizations behind our bill. i just want colleagues to understand how people have come together from all sides of the aisle. the union workers, the nonunion workers, the businesses, the union businesses, the nonunion, everybody has come together. democrats, republicans and independents on our committees. and the reason is we're coming out of a very, very tough and
deep recession. where housing was hurt deeply, and we're having a very tough time coming out of the housing recession. so construction workers have a 15% or more unemployment rate compared to an 8.3 unemployment rate in the rest of the work force. if you put them into super bowl stadiums, it would fill the unemployed construction workers. 15 super bowl stadiums. that's what it would look like. if you manage what that looks like, everyone sitting in those stadiums. we have an obligation to come together on behalf of jobs, on behalf of an aging infrastructure that needs to be fixed. we have got bridges collapsing. we have got roads not up to par. we have got problems in this nation and we can solve them and we can solve them only if we come together. and i would submit -- and i will end here because i know my colleague would like the floor and it's fine, i'm going to end at this point. i think we have an opportunity
around the 2:15 hour or so, to come together united, to give a great vote of confidence to this bill, to move it ahead with an overwhelming vote. i'm hoping for -- maybe i'm just dreaming here, but i'm hoping for well over 60 votes to go forward here. and then let's get to the amendment process. let's not offer extraneous amendments that have to do with everything but transportation. let's keep this focused. and then we can get to the conference and then we can get a bill to the president. and in closing, it would mean if our bill is the law of the land, we would save 1.8 million jobs and be able to create up to another million jobs. there is a lot riding here on this bill, if i might say, and i hope we will all come together this afternoon. mr. president, thank you for your indulgence, and i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to consider the following nomination which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, the
judiciary, cathy ann bencivengo of california to be united states district judge for the southern district of california. the presiding officer: under the previous order, there will be 30 minutes of debate equally divided prior to the vote on the nomination, with the time already consumed counted towards the majority's portion. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from california is recognized. mrs. feinstein: mr. president, i rise to speak on behalf of the nomination of magistrate judge cathy bencivengo to the position of district judge for the southern california district. when i finish, i would ask for a few moments on morning business. mr. president, judge bencivengo will fill a judicial emergency vacancy in a judicial district along the southwest border. it has one of the most -- the
highest and most rapidly increasing criminal caseloads in the country. the southern district of california includes san diego and imperial counties. it borders mexico and it consequently has a large immigration caseload. it ranks fourth in the country in terms of criminal case filings per authorized judgeship. the district's former judge, irma gonzalez, wrote me a letter urging judge bencivengo's confirmation and highlighting the felony caseload crisis in the district. as chief judge goz explained, since 2008, criminal case filings have increased by 42% and civil case files by 25%. in the past fiscal year alone, criminal cases had risen 17% up to the time of her letter. it is, in fact, a judicial emergency. the southern district's criminal caseload measured by criminal
filings per judgeship rose from -- the presiding officer: the senator is advised the previous allotted time has expired. mrs. feinstein: may i ask consent to speak for seven minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. feinstein: thank you very much. i'll cut some of this out. let me tell you a little bit about judge bench. she -- judge benjamin venso. she was approved by a voice vote. there was no objection from any colleague on any side of the aisle. she was recommended to me by a bipartisan judicial selection committee which i have established in california to advise me in recommending judicial nominees to the president. this committee reviews judicial candidates based on their legal skill, temperament, and overall commitment to excellence.
judge bencivengo has earned an outstanding reputation. throughout my advisory committee's process, judge bencivengo has set herself apart as a person who would be truly exceptional. she was born in new jersey, she began her undergraduate career at rutgers, she earned a bachelor's in journalism and political science, earned a master's from rutgers as well. she worked for a leading american corporation, johnson & johnson in new brunswick. she then attended the university of michigan law school, where she excelled, graduating mag that cum laude and was inducted into the order of the coif. after law school she joined the san diego firm gray-kerry and later became part of a major international law firm. she became a founding member of the firm's patent litigation group. her knowledge of patent law,
which she honed in law school and in private are practice, made her a valued resource for her colleagues and clients. so she quickly rose, was selected as the national co-chair of her firm's patent litigation group, a role in which she managed 70 patent attorneys. in 2005, she became a magistrate judge, a role in which she served as a serious and thoughtful jurist. since her appointment, she has published 180 opinions, over 190 reports and recommendations, over 1,800 orders of nondes positive motions. roughly 800 involve felony criminal cases. she has substantial expertise in patent law, which will be welcome in the district, which is part of a new federal judicial program designed to assign more patent cases to judges who are experts in the
field of patent law. so she will be helpful. judge bencivengo has received high praise from any number of people. i know of no opposition to her confirmation. i think this advise and consent process will he yield a very -- will yield a very good seasoned san diego judge, magistrate judge for the district court and i am very proud to recommend her and to have had unanimous consent of the judiciary committee for her confirmation. i see senator lee on the floor, and perhaps i could ask for unanimous consent when senator lee concludes and if there is time left, that i be reverted to to speak for a couple of minutes on morning business. the presiding officer: without objection.
mr. lee: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from utah is recognized. mr. lee: i ask unanimous consent to speak for a period of time up to seven minutes. the presiding officer: the senator has that time. mr. lee: thank you, mr. president. i rise today in opposition to this nomination. i do so not because of the qualifications of this particular nominee, but instead i do so in defense of the u.s. constitution. in opposing president obama's appointments, i've repeatedly made clear that this is a constitutional issue. each time i've spoken out and i've done so on numerous occasions, i've set forth in detail the reasons why i believe on a legal basis, on a constitutional basis, why president obama's recent purported recess appointments are unprecedented and unconstitutional. i've also made absolutely clear that my opposition to president obama's appointments is not partisan, and that i will hold
a republican president equally accountable whenever any republican president makes a similarly unconstitutional claim of power. this president has enjoyed my cooperation up to this point. i've voted for many if not most of his nominees. that cooperation can't continue, not in the same way that he has enjoyed it up until this point in light of the fact he has disrespected our authority, within this body. he's disrespected the constitution. unfortunately, many of my colleagues have refused to engage on the real substance of this issue. instead, they repeatedly changed the subject to partisan politics. the nominations process and richard cordray's qualifications to head the cfpb. even worse and despite my repeatedly making clear i intend to hold any republican president to the same standard to protect the institutional and constitutional prerogatives of the senate, rather than the interests of any political
party, given that those are at stake, the democrats, including the president himself, have accused me of playing politics. i want to be clear again, this is not the case. i'm here to defend the constitutional prerogatives of the senate and the separation of -- the separation of powers and the system of checks and balances that are at the heart of our constitutional system. the senate's advice and consent role is grounded in the constitution, the constitution system of checks and balances. in federalist number 51, james madison wrote that the great security against the garage concentration of the several powers in the same branch of government consists in giving to those who administer each branch the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others. among those constitutional means is the senate's ability to withhold its consent for a nominee, forcing the president to work with congress to address
that body's concerns. the key conclusion that the department of justice's office of legal counsel memorandum on which president obama relied in making these recess appointments is that the president may unilaterally decide and conclude that the senate's pro forma sessions somehow do not constitute sessions of the senate for purposes relevant to the recess appointments clause, in clause 3 of article 2, section 2. if allowed to stand, this deeply flawed assertion would upend an important element of the constitution's separation of powers. under the procedures set forth by the constitution, it is for the senate and it's not for the president to determine when the senate is in session. indeed, the constitution expressly grants the senate that prerogative, the power to determine the rules of its own proceedings. commenting on this very provision in his authoritative constitutional treatise, joseph
storey noted that quoth -- quote -- "the hawmbest assembly of men has the power to make its open rules and it would be absurd to deny the counsels of the nation its own authority." this is precisely the result of the attempt of president obama's attempt to tell the senate when it is or is not in recess. i'm saddened that some of my colleagues are not more jealous of this body's rightful institutional prerogatives. as they well know the constitution's protections do not belong to any one party and its structural separation of powers is meant to protect against the abuses, present and future, of presidents of both parties, action wesy to -- action wing to the president -- acquiescing to the president may result in a temporary political gain for the president's party but relinquishing this important
piece of the senate's constitutional role has lasting consequences for republicans and democrats alike. because of this oath that i've uphold the constitution of the united states that i find myself duty bound to oppose this nomination and i strongly urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to take seriously their obligation, both to the constitution and to the institutional prerogatives of the senate, and to do the same. thank you, mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from california is
recognized. mrs. feinstein: i'd like to briefly respond to senator lee's comments, and i understand the reasons for which he opposing this nominee. i would again point out that in my opinion,the based on what i heard the distinguished senator say, it has nothing to do with the nominee, it has to do with the peripheral issue. i would hope that a majority of the senate would understand that this is a totally noncontroversial, totally capable, totally qualified and totally good nominee. and to hold her confirmation hostage i think is something that really doesn't redound well on this body. this is a judicial emergency in the southern district of california. and we need to get this judge approved. i appreciate the senator's
comments. i think most of us are well aware of the feelings on the other side. i just think somehow, some way we have to come together and prevent what's happening. and what's happening is if i don't get my way on something, i'm going to hold up appointments, i'm going to hold up confirmations, i'm going to do whatever i can to show that i have power to disrupt this body. and in essence, the body can be disrupted. we know that. there are very strong minority rights in the senate rules of order. but at the same time, we have an obligation to see that qualified people who want to serve in this government, in this case in the judicial arm of the federal court system, have an opportunity to do so, and that where there is real danger in terms of overly high caseloads, we can respond and
get qualified nominees in place. so i appreciate what the senator had to say. i understand it, but i appeal to this body, please vote to approve cathy bencivengo to the southern district of california. thank you very much. i yield the floor. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mrs. feinstein: mr. president, i ask the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. the question is on the nomination. mrs. stein stein feinstein: i ae yeas and nays on the nominee, kathy bencivengo. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
under the previous order, the motion to reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table. the president shall be immediately notified of the senate's action, and the senate will resume legislative. session. the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion. we the undersigned senators in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate hereby move to bring to a close the debate on the motion to proceed to calendar 311, s. 1813, a bill to reauthorize federal highway and highway safety construction programs and for other purposes. signed by 17 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is: is it the sense of sense of the senate that debate on the motion to proceed to s. 1813, a bill to reauthorize federal aid to highway and highway safety construction programs and for other purposes, shall be brought to a close? the yeas and nays are mandatory
voted or wish to change their vote? if not, on this vote the yeas are 85, the nays are 11, three-fifths of the ?ars duly chosen and sworn having voted in the affirmative, the motion is agreed to. the senator from california. mrs. boxer: i just want to thank colleagues. this is a tremendous vote here, to move forward with one of the most important jobs bills we could really do in this session. because we're talking about protecting 1.8 million jobs and the possibility of another one million jobs being created through an an expanded tifia program which leverages local funds at very little risk to the federal government. so this is a good vote. i want to take this opportunity in order to thank colleagues on both sides of the aisle, but also to thank the over 1,000 groups out there, everyone ranging left to right and everything in between. and from workers,
organizations, to businesses, to the chamber of commerce, to the afl-cio. it's rare that we can walk down the aisle together. but now the true test comes. we have a lot of work to do to complete this legislation, to make it real, to give that certainty out there, get those jobs going. we have a lot of work to do. we have the banking committee, which under the able leadership of senators johnson and shelby, have a title we have to add. we have to add a title from the finance committee, we would like to add the title from the commerce committee. then we would have all of the four committees represented in this legislation. and then we can move and get a strong vote, get into the conference and -- and i have to say, tell the house side that we have a truly bipartisan bill that deserves their consideration. but if we start seeing amendments that go to issues that are unrelated to this, the hot button issues of the day, the issues where we have the
ideological divide, we're going to slow this down. he so i guess i'd like to say to my colleagues on the democratic side and the republican side, please do not mess up this bill and load this bill down with extraneous matters. we're very happy to look at germane amendments, senator inhofe and i are ready to look at those. we've made an agreement that if we don't agree, we're going to oppose it. we're working together. but extraneous matters don't belong on this bill unless he should have overwhelming support and they are not controversial. and, you know, i'm very hopeful, but i've seen bills come to this floor and get loaded down and at the end of the day the american people lose. we cannot afford to lose this bill. i want you to imagine 15 super bowl stadiums, and imagine in your mind's eye what it looks like. and all of those 15 super bowl
stadiums, every seat is filled. and every seat is filled with a construction worker. that's how many construction workers are out of work, more than a million. so we cannot fail these workers. we cannot fail these businesses. these are good jobs. the housing crisis is not yet behind us. we have a long way to go. construction there has slowed down, so we need to make sure that our construction workers are back on the job. we need to make sure we fix our bridges that are crumbling. we need to make sure we keep goods moving. you know, this is a 21st century economy with an infrastructure that is not keeping up. i want to take a moment to -- to thank again the members of the environment and public works committee. senator sanders, who's in the chair, is a very important member who is focused like a laser beam on jobs, jobs and jobs. and he knows, as i do, we didn't get everything we wanted in this
bill. not -- not by a long shot. but we know that there are times that you have to put that aside for the good of the people so that we get something done. and something done here is protecting 1.8 million jobs and creating up to a million new jobs with our expanded tifia. so, mr. president, i want to thank you for your hard work on getting us to this moment. i want to thank senator inhofe for his amazing cooperation, senator baucus and vitter and all the members of the committee. senators johnson and shelby of banking. senator rockefeller, who worked so hard with senator hutchison, and we hope we'll resolve the outstanding issues in commerce. senator baucus, who worked with senator hatch, and we did get a good finance piece. and we are so ready to go, and so we are going to await to see whether our colleagues on the other side will insist upon 30
hours going postcloture or whether they yield back that time and allow us to get started on the amendment process. so at this moment, i'm going to put in a quorum call, note the absence of a quorum and hope that we can can quickly move to amend this bill. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
the presiding officer: the senator from alaska. mr. begich: i come to the floor -- the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. begich: i ask to vacate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. begich: i come with a simple message about our economy. i know we're in the process of the transportation bill and the chairman of the committee may come out momentarily so i'll
yield when that happens because that bill is about jobs, about jobs and creating infrastructure investment. we've made incredible progress, and we continue to make incredible progress, when you think about three years and where we are today. now, i know some in washington like to focus on the scare tactics and how bad things are, how they could be worse if we continue on whatever path they think we're on, but the fact is, you just have to look at the recent information, not produced by a bunch of politicians, but by other people looking at the economy or investing in the economy or participating in the economy in a pretty direct way. one statistic that's an incredible chart when you look at it, it speaks for itself really when i look at it. we've had now just prior to 2009 and a little bit after, we had about eight million jobs that were lost. we've now had -- actually this
says 22 months of consecutive growth. we've actually had 23 months of consecutive growth and this number that says 3.2 is actually closer to 3.7 million new jobs in our economy since the great recession started in late -- early 2009. and, again, i know people come down and say it could be better. i don't know about you, this was bad. this is better. canada we always do better? we always do, that's the american dream, strive to do better, more as we move on but there is no question the good news and the job losses are diminishing and now gone. job gains. this is private sector job gains which is very important and more importantly, the underlying issue of the job gains are small businesses. if you watch the data this last month, when the unemployment rate was estimated to be a little bit higher but it actually came out at 8.3, lower
than almost every economist thought and all you had had to do was look underneath the data point. and the data point was very clear. small businesses were hiring. they are the backbone of this economy. if they're hiring in december, january, in months when people expect -- january especially, the economy to start slowing down, what they're hiring for is because they see the future and they see increasing sales and the potential. so, again, i know we hear people say, oh, it's not 0 as good as it could be. i don't know about you but 8.3 is better than everybody figured it would be. do we want it lower, madam president, do you want it lower? of course we do, but the trend lines are clear. we also had had a four-year low in u.s. jobless claims. again, boosting spending in our economy. consumer confidence, an article in sn in late december -- cnn,
consumer confidence shoots higher in december. why is that important? the more consumers are confident about the economy, the more they engage in the economy. an interesting one is how low refinancing rates are. 3.75%, 3.875%, unbelievably blow but people are still hesitant. but when you look at the data points in the last few weeks and especially one came out yesterday, more and more people are refinancing. 21% increase last month refinancing. why is that important? again, consumers feel confident the rates are strong for them, they can get a better rate on their home. net result: more money in their pocket for themselves to spend on their family, on whatever they want to buy, vacations, the new remodel job they want to do, the kitchen they've been holding off on fixing up or the fence that's tipping over a little bit, now they're going to hire a small contractor to fix it.
consumer confidence is on the rise. again, we'll hear it's not good enough. well, yes but it doesn't mean we're done. we got a lot of work ahead of us but we have done incredible things. home builders in an a.p. article last week or so, home builders see stable housing market. let me repeat that, stable housing market. most people say it's not a growing housing market. no, but before it was diving. it was sinking. it was disappearing. stable is good because when you go from stable the next result is you move to the next level, growth. g.m. automobile industry. and i know i talk about this one a lot. three years ago, flat on its back. people said it's not going to survive, let it go away. today g.m. according to forbes, not a very liberal magazine, but "forbes" january 19, g.m. number one in the world. number one.
why is that important? they are hiring more people from all kinds of ranges of salary. they -- their secondary suppliers are hiring more people. people who ship those cars are hiring more people. again, moving forward. we've seen manufacturing actually in the budget committee a couple days ago, fed chairman bernanke was surprised by the strong growth in manufacturing. which, again, a few years ago people said manufacturing, we're never going to get back to our days. again, growth. industrial suppliers power up sales, "wall street journal," january 24. u.s. state tax revenues -- why is this important? because this shows subeconomies within states, within communities growing. u.s. state tax revenues returned to prerecession levels, cnbc december 8. again, stronger economy. and i will say tbhak my home
state, we're making progress on the chuck sheen, potential oil and gas development, 26 billion barrels of known recoveriable oil today, i think it's a lot higher but that's what we know about. can provide in january once in production 30,000 jobs, millions in payroll. throughout this country. because that's u.s. oil for u.s. consumption and utilization or export if we're in the business of selling it, but the point is it is jobs for alaskans, jobs for americans. this month's shell got a final permit for drill ships, one step closer to exploration. there's no question in my mind we're going to make that happen. three years ago, people told me we're never going to do anything in federal laws, develop our resources in alaska that are in federal hands because of bureaucracy, the rules don't allow it.
well, i stand here today and tell you after just three years national petroleum reserve, beaufort, billions of barrels of oil. they are right, the last 30 years we've had sluggish opportunity in that field. today it's moving forward. in three years, new activity. powerful for our country, from a national security perspective, but also from an economic security perspective. we know connicko -- con owe co-- conoco phillips has received a permit and hope to develop in 2013. and in 2010 investments in mining totaled more than $264 million. a 47% increase, and one-third of the total spent on mining exploration in the u.s. overall was in alaska. there's a new gold rush in alaska with continued increase
in gold prices, general submitted by small family run operations. rose from 350 in 2005 to over 500 -- 580 this year. alaska even has a reality show called "gold rush." alaska topped over $5 billion in exports in 2011 and china is now our number one top trading partner. there are liquefied national gas opportunities we're exploring and we can he sure you alaska companies have a strong interest in moving forward. the good news is spreading across this country but our work as i said, is not done. we must continue to build on this progress and secure long-term economic stability that will protect our middle-class families and support our businesses moving forward. we must address the deficit, unemployment is still too high, better but still too high and our housing market is still a
little weak. europeans' economic situation remains uncertain and we continue to depend on unstable sources of foreign oil. we must protect the middle-class families and support small businesses. including stepping the payroll tax cuts, unemployment insurance, a true energy plan that includes domestic oil development, tax reform to protect the middle class and strengthen our housing market. we can and must improve our economy and address long-term fiscal challenges at the same time. even with hard work ahead there is a lot of reason for optimism. we are moving in the right direction. we are creating jobs. we are turning this economy around. just last week and i'll end on this note, i spend time looking at every business publication, reading what's going on, not just from a global perspective
but from companies themselves and we you see headlines in "wall street journal," jobs power, unemployment dips to 8.3%, dow highest level sips 2008. some people say, the market it's hard to gauge that but if you're one of those people who put a little money aside for a retirement in a 401(k) or your i.r.a. or money set aside for your kids to go to college, in 2009 it was a sad year. you were thinking you're going to have to work a lot longer to make up some of that money. today the market is double what it was then. if -- i would challenge people to take their 2009 march, april statements if they have them, an education account for their kids or an i.r.a. and compare to where it is today. can it be better than where it is today? absolutely. that's what we're going continue to strive for. i'm going to continue to come down to this body, to this floor, talk about this great economic news.
i know, you know, people want to see the worst in things. i think what's made this country great as we -- is we see the best this things. we see what the opportunities are, we take advantage of them, we try, we risk a little bit, like the auto bailout and the cash for clunkers, we took a little risk. we walked the road alone. today almost all that paid off and guess what -- a thriving industry providing jobs all across this country. so, madam president, we have a lot to be proud of and a look to look forward to. we just got to keep on the path, take a little risk once in a while, push the envelope and bank on the american people. madam president, i yield the floor. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: ask consent the call of the quorum be terminated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i now ask unanimous consent that all postcloture time be yielded back and the motion to proceed be agreed to. that the committee-reported amendments be agreed to, the bill as amended be considered original text for the purpose of
further amendment.further, that it be in order for senators baucus or designee on behalf of senators johnson and shelby, the chairman and ranking member of the banking committee, to call amendment number 1515, which is at the desk, that following the reporting of the amendment, the senate proceed to a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: under the previous order, mr. president, all postcloture time is yielded back and the motion to proceed is agreed to. the clerk is going to report, is that right now? the presiding officer: under the previous order, all postcloture time is yielded back and the motion to proceed is agreed to. the clerk will report the bill. the clerk: calendar number 31, s. 1813, a bill to reauthorize federal aid highway and highway safety construction programs and for other purposes. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the committee-reported amendments are agreed to and the bill, as amended, will be considered original text for purposes of further amendments.
mr. reid: on behalf of senators johnson and shelby, the chairman and ranking members of the banking committee, i send an amendment to the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from nevada, mr. reid, for mr. johnson and mr. shelby, proposes an amendment numbered 1515. at the end, add the following. division d, public -- mr. reid: i ask further reading of the amendment be dispensed with, mr. president. the presiding officer: without objection. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. a senator: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that it be in order at this time to offer amendment number 1550 to the underlying bill, senate 1813. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. reid: mr. president, i, of course, reserve the right to object and do object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, our country is unique in the world because it was established on the basis of an idea, an idea
that we're all endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights, in other words, rights that are conferred not by a king or a president or a congress, but by the creator himself. the state protects these rights but it doesn't grant them. and what the state doesn't grant, the state can't take away. that's what this week's debate on a particularly odious outcome from the president's health care law has been about. our founders believed so strongly that the government should neither establish a religion nor prevent its free exercise that they listed it as the very first item in the bill of rights. and republicans are trying today to reaffirm that basic right. but apparently our friends on the other side don't want to have this amendment or debate. they won't allow those of us who are sworn to uphold the u.s.
constitution to even offer an amendment that says we believe in our first amendment right to religious freedom. frankly, this is a day i was not inclined to think i would ever see. i've spent a lot of time in my life defending the first amendment, but i never thought i'd see a day when the elected representatives of the people of this country would be blocked by a majority party in congress to even express their support for it regardless of the ultimate outcome. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i appreciate the comments of my distinguished republican colleague the senate just voted 58-11 to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to the surface transportation bill, a bipartisan bill, sponsors of which senator boxer, senator inhofe. an unlikely pair, but they joined together to move forward on a piece of legislation that is extremely important to this
country. a bill that will save or create two million jobs. there are four parts to this bill within the jurisdiction of four senate committees. the environment and public works committee. that's what we're on now. i've sought to amend that by the provision coming from the banking committee. we have one from the finance committee that's been approved on a bipartisan basis. and we'll move, after we do those two, to the commerce section. we've not had the first -- we have not dealt with the finance committee provision or the commerce committee. now, mr. president, i appreciate the republicans' opportunity to never lose an opportunity to mess up a good piece of legislation. we've seen that happen now for the last three years. we saw it in spades last year. here is a bipartisan bill to create and save jobs.
no one disputes the importance of this legislation. every state in the union is desperate for these dollars. money -- we're not borrowing money to do it. it's all paid for. whether it's the state of west virginia, the state of missouri or the state of nevada, all the departments of transportation there are waiting to find out what's going to happen at the end of this month, february. that is fast approaching. we need to get this done. then i hope, mr. president, we can deal with other matters and not get bogged down on this legislation. let's do the banking part of this bill. let's do the finance part of this bill. let's do the commerce part of this bill. but to show how the republicans never lose an opportunity to mess up a good piece of legislation, listen to this. they're talking about first amendment rights, the constitution. and i appreciate that. but, mr. president, that is so
senseless. this debate that's going on dealing with this issue dealing with contraception is a rule that hasn't been made final yet. there's no final rule. let's wait until there's at least a rule that we can talk about. there is not a final rule. that's what all you read about in the newspapers. why there's discussions going on as we speak. there's not a rule. everybody should calm down. let's see what transpires. so let's deal until there's a final rule on this, let's deal with the issue before us. that's saving jobs for our country. and people can come and talk about the constitution, the first amendment. i've never seen anything like this before, but i've never seen anything like this before either. there's no final rule. why don't we just calm down and see what the final rule is. the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mr. blunt: mr. president, of
course i'm disappointed to not be able to offer this amendment today, but it's an amendment that we've been talking about for some time. this is a bipartisan amendment. it was a bipartisan piece of legislation. senator nelson from nevada and i would like to offer it, and we'd like to offer it as soon as possible. i have the highest regard for both of our leaders, both the majority leader and the minority leader, and understand they have a job to do, but this highway bill is going to clearly take some time. this is a four-page amendment that i'd be glad to see voted on on monday. it's been widely discussed all week, this week. i would have been glad to see it voted on when i filed the bill in august. there wasn't a rule then either, but both mr. nelson and i, senator rubio, senator ayotte and others were anticipating that we were going to begin to see exactly the kinds of things that this discussion this week has brought about. this is about the first amendment. it's about religious beliefs. it's not about any one issue.
in fact, this amendment specifically does not mention a specific issue. it refers to the issue of conscience. and in the amendment itself, the reference is made to the letter that, in 1809, thomas jefferson sent to the new london methodist where he says of all the principles in the constitution, the one that we perhaps should hold most dear, if i can paraphrase a little bit, is the right of conscience and that no government should be able to come in and oppose itself -- impose itself between the people and their faith-based principles. in health care, we've never had this before. why didn't we need this amendment or why didn't we need the bill that was filed in august five years ago or one year ago or two years ago or three years ago? because only with the passage of the affordable health care act did we have the government in a position for the first time ever to begin to give specific mandates to health care
providers. and this bill would just simply say that those health care providers don't have to follow that mandate if it violates their faith principles. and whether it's faith principles that are part of a health care delivery system that could be through any number of different faith groups. and i've talked to a lot of them. frankly some of those faith group views of health care don't agree with my views or my faith views of health care, but that's not the point here. this is not about whether i agree with what that faith group wants to do, but it's whether they're allowed to do it or not, whether the representative of that view of health care and how it affects people is able to say to their government, no, this is something that's protected by the constitution. it's protected by the first amendment. you can't require me to provide a service through a faith-based institution that i don't agree
with. or you can't require me as a health care provider to provide a service that i don't agree with because of my faith. it doesn't mean you can't get it somewhere else if it's something that can legally be done. it just means that people of faith or institutions of faith don't have to do it. that's why in almost every catholic church in america the last two weekends a letter's been read from the bishop or the archbishop that said this is unacceptable. it should not be complied with. that's why the chaplain to the army, the chief archbishop to the army sent out a letter to be read at catholic mass on army posts all over the country. initially that letter wasn't going to be read because it didn't agree with the other -- with apparently the tenets that the government was pursuing at a
time, which is the violation that people would see most offensive, i think. that the government would actually begin to say to people of faith, you can't even talk about, you can't even have that letter read on a military post from the person who's responsible for the chaplains, the catholic chaplains in the military. maybe it's a faith view of how to deliver health care that somebody in the christian science community has or somebody in the seventh day adventist community has or the southern baptist community or whatever that might be. the specific thing is not the issue here. the issue here is can government require a faith-based institution to go beyond the tenets of its faith. and i know the leader, the democratic leader, the majority leader said there's not even a rule yesterday. the white house said there would be. the administration said there would be a rule. and to make it even more offensive, they said, by the way, here's what the rule is
going to be. and we're going to give you a year to figure out how to adjust your views to accommodate the rule. i would have been less offended if they just said here's the rule. and we understand it's in violation of your rules -- your views, but here's going to be the rule and you're going to have to comply with it. the idea that you could change your rules in a year or your religious views, rather, your religious beliefs in a year or a lifetime because some federal regulator says you need to is unbelievably offensive in our country based on the principles that we hold most dear in the constitution itself. and so this amendment, which is bipartisan in nature, i think easily understood because it is so fundamental to who we are, it is an amendment that could be quickly debated. it could be quickly voted on. the senate of the united states could express its view. and i believe that view would be
one supportive of institutions of faith. and, by the way, also, mr. president, the administration is saying we gave an exemption for the church itself. and, one, i don't know how long that exemption would last. and, two, i think that shows a lack of understanding of the work of the church or the work of the synagogue or the work of the mosque or the work of people of faith coming together. if the only thing that matters in their work is what happens within the four walls of the church or whoever works in the four walls of the church every day, these institutions are not what i believe they are. the great schools, the great hospitals, the great community providing institutions of america have so many of them for so long have been based on faith principles. and this amendment would say for health care, those faith
principles would still be the overraoeupgd principle -- the overriding principle. for health care, if someone doesn't agree with the direction of the government, they don't have to perform that service. they don't have to provide that specific kind of insurance to their employees. and remember, the underlying bill here, the underlying rule here that has been announced even though it may not have been officially issued is one that talks about people who have chosen to go to work for, to get a paycheck for, to work at the direction of a faith-based community and then to tell that community what your insurance has to look like. well, that's just one of many steps. if the government can do that, what can't the government do? if the government can do that, where does the government stop? if the government can do that, when you say, you know, this is something i don't believe in so i don't want to be part of this particular health care issue,
this health care moment, this health care episode, whatever you want to call it. you say, oh well, you've got to do it because the government says you have to do it. and the first amendment doesn't matter. the protection of conscience doesn't matter. the jefferson letter to new london methodist doesn't matter. and until the enactment of the patient protection and affordable care act, this was never an issue. and nothing would happen, if this amendment was approved and became the law of the land, nothing would be different tomorrow than it was a year ago because a year ago people, people weren't doing this. and five years ago nobody would have thought it was even possible that the federal government would tell a faith-based hospital what their insurance plan exactly had to look like that they offer their employees. or would tell faith-based health
care providers what they could do and what they couldn't do. or would say if you're not going to do everything the government will pay for, we won't pay you to do anything the government pays for. so, mr. president, this is an issue that many people in the country feel strongly about. many people in the senate, both democrats and republicans, feel strongly about. we can let this go on and create the -- the anxiety it creates for the faith community, or we can bring this amendment up, debate it, and frankly i think it's pretty well understood. debate it, vote on it, and let the country know that we still support the constitution of the united states, and while i'm disappointed i didn't get to offer this amendment today, mr. president, i will be back and we will do our -- i'm going to do my best to get this amendment offered at the earliest possible time, and i would be glad to -- to see the
senate join me and the majority join me in saying let's get this important issue off the minds of the american people and let them know that the constitution still matters and religious liberty is still the first amendment to the constitution in the united states of america, and i yield back. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: thank you, mr. president. i rise today to speak about a bill i'm introducing today, the united states job creation and international tax reform act of 2012. the name says it all. this is a bill that would incentivize american companies to create jobs in the united states while at the same time leveling the playing field for u.s. companies in the global marketplace. this bill would reform and modernize the rules for taxing
the global operations of american companies and would help america become a more attractive location to base a business that serves customers all over the world. unfortunately, our current tax rules do just the opposite. in fact, many businesses could be better off if they were headquartered outside the united states. that's not right and congress should fix it. this bill would do just that. i want to thank senator hatch and members of his staff who have been helpful in working through the complexities of this international tax. i also want to meangs eric olman, a member of my staff and a c.p.a. who worked with me in developing this legislation. he has lived overseas and worked with the u.s. tax laws overseas. that's the kind of expertise we need to reform international tax law. now, i want to thank all who testified before the finance committee, especially scott
nachez who is the vice president and general tax counsel of cargill who has dealt -- this man has dealt with the complex accounting of foreign earnings and the money to be repatriated to the united states, an actual practitioner who we have relied on. he gave us insight into the years of records that have to be reviewed for a single item in the complex web of the current international tax system in order to bring the money back to the united states. and finally, i want to thank dave camp, the chairman of the house ways and means committee who kick started the discussion on tax reform when he released his discussion draft last october. now, enacted in the 1960's, our current international tax rules have passed their expiration date. many of the united states major trading partners, including canada, japan, the united kingdom and most of europe have moved to what are called territorial tax systems. that's actually a word for a
global tax system. these types of tax systems tax the income generated within their borders and exempt foreign earnings from tax. the united states, on the other hand, taxes the worldwide income of u.s. companies and provides deferral of the u.s. tax until the foreign earnings are brought home. deferral of the tax until the earnings are brought home encourages them not to bring the money home. it actually incentivizes them to leave their money abroad and to expand over there. because the u.s. has nearly the highest corporate tax rate in the world, companies don't bring those earnings back and instead reinvest, as i said, outside the united states. that's certainly not a recipe for u.s. growth and u.s. job creation. the dominance of u.s.-headquartered companies in the global marketplace is waning. 36% of the fortune global 500 companies were headquartered in the united states in 2000.
in 2009, that number dropped to 28%. that's from 36% to 28% among the fortune global 500 companies headquartered in the united states. clearly, america is losing ground and our current international tax rules are a big part of the problem. the bill i'm introducing today would help to right the ship by pulling our international tax rules into the 21st century so that u.s. companies are not at a competitive disadvantage with foreign companies because of american tax rules that are outdated by changes most other countries have already made. the bill would give u.s. companies incentives to create jobs in the united states and undertake activities in the united states in order to win globally. although first if the foreign earnings have already been subject to a tax in a foreign country, this bill would provide a 95% exemption from the u.s. tax on those foreign earnings.
this would allow for american-managed capital to be put to the most productive use and help stabilize our economy. second, this bill would allow foreign earnings that are currently sitting overseas to be brought back to america at a reduced rate, not a zero tax rate but a greatly reduced rate and with the ability to pay that, the taxes that are owed in installments. that gets the cash back now and still gets some taxation for us instead of leaving it all overseas. this provision would serve as a transition to the new territorial system by allowing u.s. companies to unlock a significant amount of capital currently being held offshore and quickly move into the new territorial system, and that means more jobs and a better economy. and it also emphasizes one of the things i talk about with any of the tax changes as one of the few accountants. you have got to transition into these things if you want to make the companies be stable enough that they can exist through the
change in the tax codes, and that provides for a transition as well. third, this bill would reduce the u.s. tax burden on income generated by american companies from ideas and innovations. this bill would encourage companies to develop and keep rights to ideas and inventions in the united states. when families tune in to "60 minutes" on sunday evenings, they would hear fewer stories about how u.s. companies are moving their profits to tax-haven countries and avoiding u.s. tax on those earnings. families would hear fewer stories about how the u.s. multinational companies set up post office boxes in the cayman islands and switzerland without a single employee or officer of the company anywhere in sight and attribute a significant portion of their foreign earnings to those jurisdictions. instead, families would hear more stories of how u.s. companies are generating the ideas and inventions of tomorrow right here in america. this bill can be a first step in
tax reform. we have a lot of work to do in many other areas of tax law in order to make it simpler, fairer and more transparent. we need to be looking at the individual tax system, the corporate tax system and particularly how we tax the pass through entities like partnerships and s. corporations who have to -- s corporation who is have to pay the tax on the money when it's still invested in the business. i also recognize that as we move forward in these other areas, it may be appropriate to make changes to this bill. this is exactly how the legislative process should work, and i look forward to getting back to conducting the senate's business in regular order where we work through the issues first in committee and offer amendments to improve the bills that ultimately come to the senate floor where there is a shot for everybody else to make amendments. but today, with the introduction of this bill, we move from discussion to action with respect to a single piece of the tax reform. the simpson-bowles deficit commission recommended a move to
a territorial system, and i am glad to be moving the conversation forward on this recommendation with the introduction of this bill today. i hope this bill will begin a discussion, a discussion of fairness that needs to begin yesterday. i hope that members and their staff will review the bill and the detailed explanation that we have prepared. i also ask that all interested stakeholders review the bill and reach out to my staff and the staff of the finance committee to discuss what they like, what they don't like and their suggestions for improvements. that's the way bills are supposed to work. the international tax rules are not easy, they are not simple, and reforming them will be a heavy lift, but those things are worth doing and they are worth doing -- when they are worth doing, they are rarely easy or simple. i look forward to joining with my colleagues to pass international tax reforms that our american companies and our country desperately need, and i would ask unanimous consent that the bill be included in the
record following these remarks. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. enzi: mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator's bill will be received and appropriately referred. the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: a week ago, we passed a very important good government bill, the one that would make sure that members of congress can't benefit from insider trading information. i added to that an amendment that i think is a good government amendment. it calls for people that are involved in political intelligence gathering, and that's a profession you don't hear much about that profession, but it's quite a business. i ask that they be registered just like lobbyists are registered. i'd like to speak to the point of why that's very important and why it's important to bring it to the senate's attention even though it passed by a vote of 60-39 just a few days ago. because in the dark of night tuesday of this week, the house
released its version of the insider trading bill that goes by the acronym stock which wiped out any chance of meaningful transparency for the political intelligence industry. now, just think about the chutzpah of the people in the house of representatives, a small group of people taking out the language that i put in that bill when like language is cosponsored by 288 members of the house of representatives, but it happened. so that bill's coming back here without the grassley amendment on it. and we need to think about what we're going to do if you believe in good government. if you believe that there ought to be better -- more transparency in government. what we're faced here with is a powerful industry that works in the shadows, economic espionage. they don't want people to know what they do or who they work
for. they are basically afraid of sunlight, i would guess. my amendment was adopted here in the senate on a very bipartisan basis. kind of a rare occurrence today. it simply requires registration for lobbyists who seek information from congress in order to trade on that information. so isn't it very straightforward? if trades are taking place based upon political intelligence, that's their word, economic espionage, my word, obtained from congress or the executive branch, people in this country should know who is gathering such information. not requiring political intelligence professionals to register and disclose their contacts with government officials is a very gaping loophole that my amendment fixes. in fact, political intelligence
firms actually brag about this loophole. and i'll give you a for example about that bragging. this is on the web site of an organization called "the open sources intelligence group," a political intelligence firm. quote -- "our political intelligence operation differs from standard lobbying in that the open source intelligence group is not looking to influence legislation on behalf of clients but rather provide unique monitoring of information through our personal relationships between lawmakers, staffers and lobbyists. providing this service for clients who do not want their interest in an issue publicly known is an activity that does not need to be reported under the lobbying disclosure act,
thus providing an additional layer of confidentiality for our clients. this service, the organization continues, is ideal for companies seeking competitive advantage by allowing a client's interests to remain confidential." think about the words personal relationships, confidentiality. do all this under the radar is basically what they're saying. so i want to go back. if you didn't hear it the first time, let me repeat some of this for you, very much short a quote. "providing this service for clients who do not want their interest in an issue publicly known is an activity that does not need to be reported under the lobby disclosure act, thus providing an additional layer of confidentiality for our
clients." now you have it here on paper, and i just read it to you. this firm, probably one of many firms -- i don't know how many firms are doing this -- is telling potential clients if you don't want anybody to know what you're asking of federal officials, hire us. that's just wrong. but that's why firms like this don't want to register. if someone on wall street is trying to make money off of conversations that they have with senators or staff, we should know who they are. it's just that plain and simple. since the passage of my amendment which would require political intelligence lobbyists to register as lobbyists, i have heard a great deal of -- quote-unquote -- concern from the lobbying community. political intelligence professionals have claimed they should do their business in secret for several reasons.
now, this is the explanation of why you need secrecy. first, they've said that if they are required to register, they will no longer be able to sell information to their clients because people will not want to hire them. that makes me wonder, what do they have to hide? second, they have said that many of them have large numbers of clients and it would take them a lot of time to register these large numbers of secret clients. again, that makes me think that we need -- we actually need more transparency to find out who all these people buying intelligence information is -- are. thirdly, they have claimed that it would not address the so-called 20% loophole that allows people who spend less than 20% of their time lobbying from having to register under existing laws as lobbyists.
not too many people know of that 20% loophole, but that's a pretty big loophole. you can lobby but not register if you don't spend more than 20% of your time on it. well, on this issue i have some good news for these people. we don't make the mistake that caused the 20% loophole. my amendment requires anyone who makes a political intelligence contact to have to register. no loopholes, no deals, no special treatment. just everyone registers. finally, i just want to assure people, particularly journalists, that you won't have to register. now, that information has been floating around. or it's been floating around that some constituent looking for information in order to make a business decision might have to register. not so. only political intelligence brokers, people who seek information so that others can
trade securities, would have to recommendingster. as i said before, if people want to trade stocks from what we do here in congress, we should know who they are. after all, the basic underlying piece of legislation prohibits members of congress from having insider trading information and profiting from it. we ought to know who we're dealing with. the american people deserve a little sunshine from this industry, and on this industry. last night, the house turned away from transparency. they supported the status quo. mr. president, what we need is a full and open conference, a process that will go so we can take this very important issue up once again, that the house feels was somehow not very important, even though 288 members of the house of representatives, that's two-thirds of the house of
representatives, have signed on to this principle that these people ought to register. and we can take that up then in congress. both the house and senate, working together. now, is every word in this bill the way it ought to be? if somebody wants to point out some things that ought to be changed, i'm open to that. but don't forget 288 people in the house have signed on. it can't be too bad. so if we don't get to conference, or if we have to debate this again on the floor of the senate, we might not get 60 votes again. so i would worry that we will miss the best opportunity that we have had for openness and transparency in years. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: mr. president, when we went to college, usually
things were different. often a student took out a loan, but those loans were manageable, and usually there were jobs waiting. today, too often that's not the case. in fact, the students today who take out loans will leave school sacked, on average, with $25,000 worth of debt. and they're going to be trying to get into a labor market where there are more than four unemployed americans for every available job. mr. president, it has been noted that for the first time, student loan debt exceeds credit card debt and that now totals over $1 billion. now, clearly investment in higher education today is an
economic imperative. education is the great equalizer. it enables upward economic mobility, and it breaks down class structures that impair many countries' ability to grow their economies. a highly skilled and educated work force is the basis for a healthy economy. and it is the lynch partnership to our -- linchpin to our economic future. in every major economic decision our people make, they try to evaluate, mr. president, the value of that decision. like prospective homeowners who inspect and assess the potential value of their future home. in my view, future students should be able to comparison shop and choose a school and a program based on what their return on investment will be. now, our capital markets work best when we can accurately
measure the value of the things we choose to invest in. we saw what happens when that's not the case, when the housing bubble burst and our economy is still struggling to recover from the mortgage meltdown. in many instances, consumers who didn't have all the facts bought a product based on misleading information and often fell victim to predatory lenders looking to make a profit off that growing bubble. consumers must know what they can expect from their investments, and students are entitled to know the value of their education before they go out and borrow tens of thousands of dollars from the banks and from the government to finance their choices. right now, mr. president, consumers don't have this information, though the information exists. it's unavailable to students and
families, too often when they're making perhaps the most important decisions that affect their future, both their financial future and their career. that is why today, mr. president, i am introducing the student right to know before you go act, which would help college students, prospective young people, get the information they need about their education. this proposal would ensure that future students and their families can make well-informed decisions by having access to information on their expected average annual earnings after graduation, rates of remedial enrollment, credit acriewm lakes and graduation, the average cost before and after financial aid of the program, and average debt upon graduation and finally, the effects of remedial education and financial aid on financial attainment and
a greater underring of what student success can mean. mr. president, from markets to work there has to be good information available and until now, it has been extremely hard for students and families to collect this data in a cost-effective way while at the same time ensuring student privacy. however, the states as we have seen so often, the president of the senate and i have talked about this from time to time -- the states have piloted their own programs and proved that technology exists to enable our ability to generate and share this information in a way that students and consumers can use while at the same time protecting their privacy. this technology in my view makes it possible to ensure a return on their investment, for students, for parents, for policymakers and taxpayers. and it's going to help us create
a work force that meets the demands of the business that employ it and ensures that our workers can successfully compete in the global economy. one last point, if i might, mr. president. i think it is clear that access to higher education is an integral part of the stepladder to success, and particularly success for the middle class that build this country. chairman harkin, of course, the chairman of our committee that deals with these issues, has probably done more than any other member here in the united states senate, to put a focus on this issue, how important it is to grow the middle class, address the big concerns that they have faced. middle-class people haven't had a pay raise in a full decade, and it seems to me as part of the agenda -- and chairman harkin has had some excellent hearings on these higher education issues -- one of the
best ways that we can come together on a bipartisan basis is to empower students and empower families to be in the best possible position to make the college choices for them that are going to pay off in the years ahead. that's what this legislation, the right to know before you go act, would do. i hope my colleagues will consider it in the days ahead. mr. president, with that, i yield the floor. and i would note the absence of a quorum. here is my colleague. i'd ask to withdraw my request for a quorum. ms. klobuchar: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: i'm on the floor to discuss something that has been a top priority for me in the senate, that is the critical need to get serious
about building a new energy agenda for america, one that keeps our businesses competitive in the global economy, preserves our environment and restarts the engine that has always kept our country moving forward, that is innovation. i'm specifically focused on the energy tax extenders, those that are so necessary for us to keep going if the area of homegrown and renewable energy. we all know that there is no solution, single solution for getting us here. but we do -- what we do need is not a silver bullet. we need a silver buckshot as we like to say in minnesota. with many of my colleagues, i've talked about the need to continue developing alternative resources such as hydro, biofuel, solar, wind and we've also talked about how we need to continue developing existing technologies, like domestic oil and gas production while enforcing appropriate safeguards. this is the very -- all -- the
all of the above approach we need to take in order to keep all options on the table. this means exploring some of the new proposals we've seen with promising technologies like the smart grid. but it also means extending the critical tax incentives that have been so important in advancing the development of the next generation of biofuels and the next generation of renewable energy. that's why i've pushed to ensure that we have the right policies in place for encouraging clean energy innovation, including the biodiesel tax credit which supports over 31,000 jobs and has allowed domestic production to more than double since 2011. it means the production tax credit which has made it possible for wind power to represent over a third of all new electricity generation capacity in the united states last year. think of that figure. think of the strides that we've made and where we can go in the future.
and the advanced energy manufacturing tax credit, which has leveraged $5.4 billion in private investment, boosting growth and creating new u.s. manufacturing jobs by producing components and equipment for the burgeoning renewable energy industry. extending these critical tax credits will help strengthen our country's clean energy business so that they can continue to grow and thrive. but they are just one part of the equation. again, there is no silver bullet solution to our nation's energy challenges and that is why we need to be willing to come together to hammer out a comprehensive strategy for moving forward. we cannot afford to keep our heads buried in the sand, we cannot afford to let jet yet another golden opportunity pass us by. too many have already, sadly, come and gone. over the years i believe there have been, especially in this last decade, several moments when we could have acted but didn't when we had the